• Panorama of Mount Sinai | Wikimedia Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported - Photo Credit: Anders Johnson

The Secret of Israel (7) – On the way to the land of Canaan

Rev Henk Poot - 19 February 2019

When Abram is one hundred years old, Isaac is born. The Bible tells that at that moment the realisation dawned upon the patriarch that he was too old to beget children (Romans 4:19). It is a miracle from God that a son is coming. The subject of inability to beget children will occur more often in the history of Israel. Isaac struggles with this problem too.

Abram’s children are actually more God’s children than those of Israel’s patriarch. The circumcision is a sign of this. Not the power and the potency of people will be Israel’s driving force in God’s history of salvation. He is in charge and He fulfils what He has promised and what He intended.

God’s covenant with Abram is also a living proof of this. Abram may have slaughtered the animals and positioned them opposite each other but if they where to pass through the pieces of the animals together according to the ritual as a token of their commitment, Abram sleeps and God passes between the pieces alone.

Our word “Covenant” is derived from the Hebrew word “ordinance, that which is firmly established” and alludes to what happened in Genesis 15. Biblical synonyms are: Oath, promise, testamentum (Latin), that which God is determined to do. It is clearly unilateral. God guarantees the relationship between Him and Israel.

A fine example of the meaning of the word covenant can be found in Zechariah’s song: “…to show mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham…” (Luke 1:72).

God’s way with His people really takes shape in the exodus from Egypt. God speaks to the angry pharaoh and says: “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” (Exodus 4:23). During the exodus it becomes clear very quickly where God is leading His people. Moses sings at the Red Sea: “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed.

In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling.” and “You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance— the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established.” (Exodus 15:13 and 17).

The ultimate goal is Mount Zion, Mount Moriah, where it all started. There will be the resting place of God with His people. In Ezekiel it says that this is the cradle of civilisation (Ezekiel 38:12). “Son of man, this is the place of my throne and the place for the soles of my feet. This is where I will live among the Israelites forever.” (Ezekiel 43:7).

But along the way there is a stop in the desert, near Mount Horeb. There God reveals Himself to Israel in His utmost glory and as a Father He explains to the children of Israel how life has to be lived with Him. In other words: what is good and evil. God interferes as a Father in literally all aspects of life: how they must interact with Him and each other, how they have to build houses and cultivate the land, how they must deal with the poor, strangers and widows and orphans, which clothes they have to wear, what they should eat and what the proper hygiene is.

About the Author